About Us

California Forward (CA Fwd) is a non-profit organization founded in 2008 that advocates for shared prosperity across all of the state’s regions and for improved government performance and accountability.

CA Fwd is currently partnered with the Governor Newsom Administration on its Regions Rise Together initiative for building a plan for inclusive, sustainable growth across California.

The organization hosts the California Economic Summit, a year round bipartisan effort fueled by business, equity, environmental, and civic leaders from across the state's diverse regions. This robust network concentrates on ensuring that all Californians have access to the building blocks of the California dream, including economic opportunity, stable housing, quality jobs and a healthy environment.

In 2019, CA Fwd merged with the California Stewardship Network, a group of leaders of regional community and economic development organizations with a triple bottom line orientation. The result is a greatly strengthened organization that possesses a deeper footprint in all corners of the state to identify and promote public policy to benefit all Californians. This civic infrastructure will improve effectiveness in expanding the economic, environment and social wellbeing of our regions.

Reform Achieved

Over the past several years, many of the needed reforms identified by CA Fwd in 2008 have been enacted and implemented. These reforms - along with experienced political leadership and a recovering economy - have eased partisan gridlock, reversed fiscal trends and begun a restructuring of government authority to better align with the state's size, diversity and complexity.

Below is a short list of reforms that CA Fwd has been involved with that have fortified California's governance:

Create Accountability for Results
Citizens Redistricting. Prop 11 in 2008 took the decennial job of drawing political boundaries away from lawmakers and gave it to citizens to reduce partisan gerrymandering.
Top-Two Primary. Prop 14 in 2010 gave every voter the right to vote for all candidates in primary elections, giving politicians an incentive to appeal to all voters in their districts.
Term Limit Reform. Prop 28 in 2012 allowed state lawmakers to serve up to 12 years in either house of the Legislature, giving them a chance to build expertise and relationships.
Public Records Reform. Prop 42 in 2014 affirmed in the constitution the public’s right to local government records.
Ballot Initiative Reform. SB 1253 in 2014 increased public review of proposed ballot measures, increased transparency about supporters and encouraged legislative solutions.
Simple Majority Vote for the State Budget. Prop 25 in 2010 made it harder for partisan stalemates to hold up funding for essential state and community services.
Rainy Day Fund. Prop 2 in 2014 provided a mechanism for managing volatile revenue and saving money to provide essential services during economic recessions.
Legislator Suspension Reform. Prop 50 in 2016 gave the California Legislature clear authority to suspend members of the Senate or the Assembly without pay.
California Legislative Transparency Act. Prop 54, approved in 2016, requires the Legislature to distribute and post online legislation in its final form for at least 72 hours before a final floor vote by either house, to post online a video recording of every legislative meeting that is supposed to be open to the public, and to allow all individuals to create and share their own recordings of legislative proceedings.
Promote Cost-effective Public Services
Community Corrections. CA Fwd is helping counties develop cost-effective strategies to implement new state laws that give local government control over more criminal offenders.
K-12 schools. CA Fwd is helping school districts use new authority and resources to close the achievement gap.
Grow Middle-Class Jobs
Good Jobs. CA Fwd, along with the CA Stewardship Network, is leading the CAEconomic Summit, a regions-driven effort to identify state actions that encourage job growth.
Workforce Investments. The Summit network has worked to steer state resources toward programs that increase job skills for a new generation of middle class wage earners. In 2016 the state budget included $200 million for the Strong Workforce program which will upgrade career technical programs which will train the state's 21st century workforce at California's Community Colleges.
Infrastructure Financing Tools. The Summit network crafted and advocated for new local authority to finance infrastructure that supports jobs, communities and the environment.
Sustainable Development. The Summit network has also helped direct a dedicated source of funding to affordable housing, make water investments that protect the state from future droughts, and expand partnerships between schools and the manufacturing industry to build a steady source of well-paying jobs.

Our History

When CA Fwd launched in 2008, the bipartisan Leadership Council articulated a vision for governance reforms to break the partisan gridlock, fortify fiscal management, and rebuild the relationship among the state and local governments - as prerequisites to better outcomes.

The California Endowment, The Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, The James Irvine Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation united to support CA Fwd because they concluded that governance reforms were an essential prerequisite to improving the public outcomes that were a priority for their philanthropies, including education and self-sufficiency, public health and well-being, and environmental protection and sustainable communities.

CA Fwd distilled the work of public commissions and private think tanks and articulated specific reforms to restore the ability of elected leaders to solve problems, public managers to improve results, and voters to hold government accountable for those results. CA Fwd and the California Forward Action Fund proposed, endorsed, promoted and helped to implement a variety of reforms.

More than 10 years later, California is in a significantly better position. Progress has been made in the budget process and fiscal management, in the political process and in the state-local relationship. CA Fwd's proposals have inspired and influenced actions and have been infused in decisions at the highest levels.

California is in an Era of Reform. But there is much more work to be done - to focus government agencies on improving results, restoring public trust, and making smart investments in education, health, public safety and infrastructure so that all of California's diverse regions can thrive.

CA Fwd is committed to those ends.